"Powering Rural Development" Project Begins In Sharp County

ASH FLAT, AR (KAIT)  A county battered by devastating storms got a big boost on Wednesday.

Sharp County is the first participant in the "Powering Rural Development" model project.

It essentially helps arm county leaders with the knowledge and resources needed to attract business.

"All the damage we've had in this county due to floods and tornados...we've had tremendous loss to public structures. We need to do all we can to stimulate economic growth in our area, said Sharp County Judge, Larry Brown.

With help from ASU's Delta Center for Economic Development and Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, Sharp County is well on the way to initiating that growth.

"It was one of the first counties that pulled together the leadership within the county and said we're ready, we have an economic opportunity, and we want to create an economic vision of what Sharp County can become," said Alan McVey.

Alan McVey is the executive director of ASU's Delta Center For Economic Development.

He says they want to create as much opportunity as they can for community and economic development in Sharp County.

Through this project, economic development professionals will provide Sharp County with  valuable tools like on site training and project management.

The project will assist rural communities that may not have the resources to devote to full time community and economic development.

"....putting together a better understanding of what the national and global economy looks like and then where they can fit into that future economic climate," says McVey.

McVey says the whole region will benefit from the creation of this county wide development organization.

McVey says Sharp County officials are ready to lead the residents through years of economic growth.

"It's not something that we're going to bring to Sharp County. It's something that Sharp County is going to further develop and create for themselves," said McVey.

Sharp County Judge, Larry Brown, says he is looking forward to the challenge and hopes for, among other things, the chance to give recent graduates a reason to stay close to home.

"We can have better opportunities for the youth of our county and also for our older folks," said Brown.

Over the course of three years, a total of nine Arkansas counties will be selected to participate in the "Powering Rural Development" project through a competitive process.

A $100,000 grant is also helping the economic development project get started.